Saturday, March 28, 2020

Daily rhythms and a surprise...

When I suggested the other day that we all look through those long forgotten UFO projects my mind had been fixed on the fabric and thread kind, but as I was cleaning up my sewing room yesterday it was yarn which caught my eye, most especially a crochet rug I began last autumn but did not get far along with.

So here we are in another Australian autumn and I'm rather toying with the idea of returning to this project and seeing it through to completion before winter's end. Staying home for many months should work in my favour with regards to that plan, but I'm also considering a basket of leftover yarn from last year's Sweet Pea blanket (Attic 24 pattern) which I made for Rafaella...

I did in fact begin a new blanket with them but my cast on row was too tight (I did not think to use a larger hook for that part) and the more rows I crocheted the more obvious that curved cast on row became so I just packed it away rather disappointed and too busy to start over. 
But it's been a long time between hooked stitches so I'm going to unravel it this weekend, perhaps whilst watching one of my favourite Jane Austen's, "Persuasion", and then start over. 
Two blankets to play with, but which one first? 
I'm rather partial to colour you know, and the sweet pea palette is more 'me' than the sandy seashore tones of the other UFO.

Have you found something to work on or finish from your UFO bundle?

In the kitchen I've made a return to breadmaking, something I did a lot of before we moved here. Through 2015-2018 most our our bread was home made and though there's been the odd spurt of home-baked loaves since then, it's the exception rather than the rule...but life is fast changing for many of us and trips to the grocery store will be few and far between now, so the rhythm of making three loaves a week is back...and it makes me happy. Mr E is rather chuffed too.

The first loaf this past week was a light rye, lovely and moist and wonderfully delicious.
I also baked an Apricot Shortcake that day, equally as yummy.

My husband and I grew up in an era when bread was always on the table alongside the evening meal and though I can go without it these days, he truly loves to have a thick slice or two beside his dinner plate. 

The Apricot Shortcake was an experiment, the base and top made using the same recipe as my Strawberry Shortcake (with a teaspoon of vanilla extract added) but I switched the centre layer ingredients to apricot jam and a large tin of drained apricot halves.

Wow...we love apricots in our family and this is sure to be made over and over, so I thought you might like the recipe...


125g butter (we use vegan butter)
110g caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat all of these together until light and fluffy.

Fold through -

110g plain white flour
110g white self-raising flour

Spread HALF of the dough across the base of a greased and lined round springform cake pan.

Warm 3/4 cup of apricot jam and spread it over the dough.
Spread the drained apricot halves over the jam (I used an 800g can - that would be a 28oz can for the US).

Spread the remaining half of the dough across the apricots - I dropped spoonfuls all over and then gently pressed down with floured hands once all the dough was in place.

Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar across the top of the dough.

Bake in a 180C (375F) oven for around 50 minutes.

A couple of weeks ago Blossom had gifted me a bowl of her homemade vegan chocolate mousse, which turned out to be more of a very rich fudge - truly scrumptious, but it needed something 'tart' to balance the sweetness.

I made a crumb base in my food processor from walnuts, almonds, macadamias and dates which I pressed into four ramekins.

Then I spread the fudgy mousse over the base....

...before topping with my homemade lemon curd. This lemon curd is very tart and ovo-vegan (we use our own hen's eggs), which gave this dessert the kick it needed to impress my husband.

I had to try it before I offered some to my husband, right?
So good. Just so good.


3 large free-range eggs
1 tablespoon (20ml) of lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons of coconut oil (80ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cacao butter (around 9 discs) - this is optional but totally worth it

Gather all the ingredients before you begin as once this begins coming together its quick.

Whisk together eggs, lemon zest and honey in a saucepan, then place on the stove over a medium heat. Immediately begin whisking in the lemon juice, coconut oil, vanilla and cacao butter.
Continue to whisk until everything melts and the mixture begins to thicken. 

Remove from heat and pour into a container to cool, and store in refrigerator. 
In the fridge this will last for around 10 days.

Our hens are back in their coop now that the worst of the wet season is over, although as I write this there is steady rain falling outside.

They have really missed this area while contained up back in the pool enclosure for more than two months, and having them back in their home has eased a bit of the stress here (they kept escaping from the pool enclosure) as well as brought a small sense of normality to daily rhythms.

Our girls lay 12-14 eggs every week, which is more than we use, so my elderly next door neighbour excitedly accepts 2 or 4 at a time. 

The yard is a mess, I have to tell you. After the extreme heat of our tropical summer and early autumn combined with the wet season, there's been nothing but weed control and bugs...yet despite that I allowed a few of our basil plants to go to seed and they have produced scores of new plants just in time for the best growing season of our North Queensland year.

We use a lot of basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme, and though some of the herbs have struggled to get by our basil and oregano have flourished.

Now I'm waiting to see if the oregano will go to seed as well. It survived the sweltering weather due to sitting in shade under the large Ixora bush all summer.

As I said the other day, it's been really difficult not having Blossom, Cully May and Rafaella visit each week, or for me to visit them. How my heart leapt yesterday when Mr E and I received drawings from the girls! They made me cry and then smile with delight because now we have them on the front of the refrigerator. I cannot wait to hug them close again when all this has passed.

NEWS - the surprise!

Blossom has just allowed me to give you a peek at her almost ready to launch online baby wear shop.
My girl has been honing her dressmaking skills for the past 3.5 years, and being homeschooled she knows well how to research, learn, practice, test and then repeat the whole process until she is fully satisfied. 

Of course, she may not admit this, but she's actually never fully satisfied and for the next 'however' long years of dressmaking there is ahead of her she'll continue learning and honing her craft because that's just how God made her to be.

The sweet little outfits are gorgeous, and so very well made...there's even a bit of vintage Tilda I see!

The label for her baby and toddler wear was inspired by her two girls, Cully May and Rafaella Lucy...

As soon as the online shop is open I will let you know.
May God bless the work of her hands.

It sounds as though the rain has settled now so I'd best be away to play in the garden with my man.
He has a wheelbarrow full of mature compost ready for me to plant seeds and there's nothing better than soft wet soil to pull weeds, plants seeds and seedlings, and to enjoy the earth beneath your feet.

I'll leave you with this beautiful photo I took yesterday. Butterflies are everywhere in the garden at the moment but they do love colour and mostly I find them on flowering bushes or here enjoying a vibrant potted plant waiting to be planted out.

Bless each and every one of you,
loving hugs


Angie in SoCal said...

I can almost taste the recipes! Once I've converted the grams to ounces, I'll try that apricot recipes. I LOVE apricots. My most favorite candy is apricots dipped in dark chocolate. Can I use something else for the coconut oil? We're sheltering in place and I can't get to the grocery store too easily right now. Blessings to you all,

Beth said...

My current plan is to get going on the quilt that I started planning when I was 16 (I'm now well more than double that age). I've been collecting fabric for a long time, and the plans have changed since the initial idea. There are also some art projects I'd love to finish as well.
We would have been having a party for my nephew's first birthday today, but that has been cancelled.
I'm thankful for school holidays, because for the next 2 weeks I don't have to work from home and can relax.
The butterflies are beautiful!

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Chocolate, nuts and lemon curd ! Now that's a winner ! and the apricot shortcake is on the list !
Pulled out another "took a workshop and started a few years ago" project. Now that I've changed the plan with it, it's amazing how fast it's coming together! I'ts enjoyable seeing the "neglected"projects coming to life :)
Out with an old and in with a new project is easily filling the weeks at home ...don't mind at all.
A garden is a great space! Love seeing how your's grows and changes.

Kay said...

I have been enjoying taking time to go through my unfinished projects, I do a lot of cross stitch and this year aim to complete most of my part finished pieces. Although it is hard not seeing people I am glad to be a home where I feel safe, Sunday was particularly difficult as it was mother's day in England and my daughter was unable to come over. Many ingredients are hard to come by in the shops, including pasta, and rice so I am having to be inventive about what I cook, it really is a challenge but luckily I do have a little rice and pasta in my storage. I miss baking as it uses almost impossible to get ingredients like flour and eggs. Saying that it certainly concentrates the mind on what we are thankful for. On Sunday we will be joining in with a worldwide day of prayer and fasting with our church. Those baby outfits are adorable, I am sure she will do extremely well when people see the quality and care taken with them. Stay safe. x

Lin said...

That shortbread looks yummy and as for the choclate lenmon dessert mmmmmmmmm! Enjoy your crochet. xx

cinner57 said...

God bless and protect you and your loved ones.
Thank you for sharing your kind spirit.

Alison Ryan said...

Thank you Jenny, for your beautiful words and comfort. I too am feeling sad today I should have been landing in Japan on a visit to see my son who has been working there since August. However I had a very long chat to him this morning and am praying he stays safe until I can see him later in the year. My daughter sent me a postcard with a picture of them both on with a lovely message of love, it will be her birthday on Monday and it is so sad not to be together in Japan but we will stay safe apart and God willing will see each other soon. Sending love to you and your family and know that you are always in my prayers xxx

Allie said...

Well now I'm hungry, lol! You're so talented in the kitchen, girl. And look at all the lovely growing things!!!! We're starting to see some flowers here, not many as it's still too chilly for most, but the little pops of color are lovely. Congratulations to Blossom - I adore the name of her shop and the logo!!!! Talent really runs in the family!

RBrown said...

Thank you for such an uplifting message for today. Your recipes sound wonderful. I had prepared a fresh coconut at Christmas but put it in the freezer. This week I got it out and put it in my chopper to grate it fine. I had a 3 layer white cake, a seven minute frosting to frost it. I then sprinkled the coconut on the cake. It was delishous. My husband fell this week while working outside. He ended up in the ER with a concusion and torn rotor cuff. I have been doing for him as he has done for me when I had broken ribs, knee cap and sternum. He may not get his garden in by Good Friday unless his shoulder is much better. We believe God is in control and we trust Him with all outcomes.

Dots said...

I like bread, too. I made biscuits today. Like Mr. E, I love bread with my meals. Blossom's shop will do well. What nice little outfits! I use to sew for my girls, so I see a lot of skill and quality in her clothing. She will do well. Very creative.
Oh I miss my kids and grandkids! But this will pass. Life will return and with passion! I have been tossing around a couple of ideas. Embroidery and cross stitch. A lot of the younger kids are learning to cross stitch, and so is my oldest granddaughter. So I'm kind of catching the fever for it again. So I thought I may invest time in a few projects like that. And then, there are all your free projects that have great draw to those as well. I would love to make every one of those, too. So you can see that I have a lot to get into around here.
I'm very happy today. Life is good. The good Lord is better than life. So I have nothing to worry over. He says 'to cast you cares on Him because He cares for you'. Now you'll never get a better invitation than that one, that will do you more than good! Be well, Jenny. God Bless.

kupton52 said...

I've been searching for a good lemon curd recipe...thank you so much. Blessings and prayers for Blossom's new business venture. From what I can see her skills have developed quite well. The toddler clothes are beautiful. I have 4 grandchildren under 8, 2 of them little girls, 5 and 1, so please keep up posted as to her progress. Thank you so much, Jenny, for all you do and all you share.

Julie said...

Oh Jenny when I see your food photos I always just want to reach into my screen & take a taste test!! They always look so delicious. I did think of you yesterday when reading an article in our newspaper about a woman that had changed to a vegan lifestyle & said her migraines had cleared up. I am missing my two grandies too - luckily we can video chat with them but I miss their little arms around my neck. I wish Blossom all the best & look forward to her website being up & running. Take care my friend xxx

Meg said...

I love the colours of your crochet rug, Jenny. It will be lovely when it is finished. I have picked up the beginnings of a shawl I started knitting last Autumn. It's made with a worsted weight organic yarn in a colour called 'Jasper'. It's a really simple pattern and will have a picot edge once it's completed (hopefully this Autumn).Meg:)

Susan said...

Thanks for the recipes, go for the pink green combo and do that one first.
Also looking forward to checking out Blossom's goodies. Lovely business name.

Simply Ann said...

I have been making rugs for my kitchen and bathroom. They are known as toothbrush rugs. My husband made me several needles out of left over wood and they are so beautiful! I finished one for our kitchen and am now working on one for our bathroom.

I have all kinds of little seedlings growing in my window seals that my son started for me. He has a greenhouse and always blesses me with plants every year.

My husband put a new clothes line up for me a few weeks ago and I have only been able to use it once so far with all the weather here in Colorado. We moved into this little house 4 years ago this month and I have really missed my clothes line!

I caught a bad cold about 6 weeks ago that took a good month to get over and now we have our stay at home order from the government. I am such a homebody that this hasn't really bothered me, except that it is cold enough to keep from going out into the yard much.

Blossoms little outfits are so adorable. I love making things for little ones. God Bless!

Tammy said...

Good day my friend. So Nice to read your post today. Love the recipes you shared. And Blossoms outfits are very cute and stylish. I know she will do well. I am dealing with a sinus infection that started driving me bonkers about 3 weeks ago first it was the pine pollen now it's the oak pollen... I have been busy working in my garden. I hope for it to be very productive this year. As I need to try as much as I can to make us a little more self sufficient here . With the world totally crazy. We have had lots of beautiful warm weather of late. I have Amaryllis blooming they are a dark red and so gorgeous. For dinner this evening I have cooked Turnips I grew in my garden. This is the last of them. I have also picked , cleaned and pot away in my freezer today 2 packs of collard greens. They cancelled Univeristy early and sent my daughter and all the other students home to finish out the year online. The schools for the children have all closed and everyone sent home to be schooled online as well. As the pandemic Virus is spreading thoughtout the states here. There is a case or 2 in our town... Love and miss you Dear. Loved seeing your pictures

Susan said...

Oh, I feel as if I just had a refreshing snack with a good friend! Maybe it was apricot shortbread. =) Your crochet plans are delightful, and I suspect you'll start with those wonderful sweet pea colors, but both pieces will be beautiful. I'm quilting a donated UFO from someone else for American Heroes, and having a wonderful time remembering how to do things. There's still some muscle memory here! Your gardens look look lovely as ever, and the hens happy to be back in their place. That is a lot of eggs for two hens! Or two people, either. How lovely of you to share with your older neighbor, though not at all unexpected. Blossom's clothing looks delightful. I have a feeling she will have a time keeping up with orders when it becomes known that she has an Etsy shop. The tag is so artistically Blossom, and the name is perfect. Please pass along to her my best wishes for every success. I'm sure her little ones are the best dressed little girls anywhere. The drawings are wonderful. Cully May's made my little teacher heart beat happy, because she's not even in kinder yet, but already displaying wonderful signs of writing and self awareness. Teaching children to write was my favorite thing, and some of them by the third year with me were quite good authors. I see that in Cully May's work already. The enthusiasm of Rafaella lets me know, she will probably follow that same path. =) I loved seeing your bright butterfly-attractor, such a beautiful plant! It isn't the same, but it reminded me of the coxcomb my mother always had. Thanks so much for a wonderful visit, Jenny!

Janice said...

I made the Apricot Shortcake from ingredients I just happened to have in the pantry. It was sooooo good. We had to get out the tablecloth, teapot with cosy and fine china to eat it. Thanks for sharing. The recipe has been added to my recipe binder to be made again.